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There comes a time in every drummer’s life when they’ll be required to get a set of drum kit mics. This could be a variety of reasons, including playing live gigs, recording drums for projects, or simply wanting better sound quality for drum videos.
Drum mics come in all shapes and sizes, and you need a lot of them to capture the full depth of your kit. Here’s a detailed list of all the best drum microphone options.
Audix DP7 7-Piece Drum Microphone Package – Best Overall
The Audix DP7 7-Piece Drum Microphone Package (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most popular drum mic kits on the market. It offers excellent mics that can be used in professional settings, but it doesn’t cost near as much as some of the mic packages that come with top studio mics.
The kit includes a set of ADX51s to use as overheads, a D6 for the bass drum, an i5 for the snare drum, two D2 mics for the rack toms, and a D4 mic for the floor tom.
I love how Audix has put a beefier mic in for the floor tom, as it allows you to get deep and growling tones from your floor tom much easier.
The D6 kick drum mic is also a personal favorite. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to place it in any sweet spots to get the best tones. It just works well everywhere.
Both the i5 and D2 mics perform well in mid to higher ranges, and they tend to bring great tones out of your snare and rack toms.
If you’re looking for a reliable professional set of drum mics that won’t cost an arm and a leg, I can’t recommend these enough.
Earthworks DK7 Drum Kit System – Premium Option
The Earthworks DK7 Drum Kit System (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most pristine drum microphone packages available. These mics have gained massive popularity over recent years, and they offer superb sound quality and usability.
The biggest difference between these mics and other ones that come in mic kits is that every mic here is a condenser. While that may seem a bit weird for drum kits, you get detailed and rich sound quality that dynamic mics don’t really offer.
This is a set of microphones for drummers that want the best and most natural sounds possible in their drum mix. They’re so easy to work with as well.
The big downside is that these mics cost a lot more than all the others on this list. However, you most likely won’t need to buy any new drum mics ever again if you get these.
My favorite design aspect is the strength of every gooseneck mount. They make the microphones easy to position, and it’s surprising how solid they feel locked in place.
Most drummers say that they need to do far less work on their EQs and mixes when using these Earthworks microphones. So, they’re the best option if you’re willing to spend top dollar.
Samson DK707 7-Piece Drum Microphone Kit – Best Budget Option
The Samson DK707 7-Piece Drum Microphone Kit (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of my favorite options to suggest to drummers who are just tipping their toes in the waters of audio production and drum recording.
It’s one of the most affordable full microphone kits, and it does a great job of getting you started. The audio quality you get from each microphone isn’t as detailed or rich as higher-end options, but these mics are more than capable of giving you a professional drum mix.
You just have to do a bit more work when mixing, which is a great exercise for drummers that need to learn how to manipulate sounds coming from microphones.
The mic clips are arguably the weakest part of these microphones, as they can be frustrating to work with. You just need to be a bit more forceful with them than with other mic clips.
I also wouldn’t recommend getting these mics if you’re an intermediate or advanced drummer. You’ll notice certain sonic details that go missing, especially from the dynamic mics that go on the snare and toms.
They’re perfect for beginners, though.
Shure Beta 52A Supercardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone
The Shure Beta 52A Supercardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the industry-standard option to use for kick drums. If you’re simply looking to buy one mic that will work well for both your bass drum and floor tom, this is the ultimate option.
One of the more impressive features of this microphone is that it has a sound pressure level handling of up to 174 dB. You won’t ever have a kick drum that loud, but that just tells you that this thing can handle anything you throw at it in terms of volume.
It does a fantastic job of bringing out the deep low end of every bass drum, but it somehow manages to highlight the attack of your beater too. Whether you want a booming bass drum or a tight and punchy one, this mic will give you both.
I know a few drummers who like to use it on floor toms. It does the job very well, but it doesn’t perform as well as it does on kick drums. It’s the greatest kick drum mic I know of, but it’s not the ultimate option for floor toms.
It’s great that you can use it for both, though. I feel as though that increases the value by a good amount.
Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone
The Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one microphone that you will find on every list you ever read. This is the most versatile microphone in the music industry, and it’s most well-known as being the go-to pick for snare drums.
One of the big reasons for it being so popular is its price. It’s very inexpensive compared to other professional mics, but it performs just as well as them.
It’s also one of the most durable microphones made by Shure. I’ve seen a few videos of people testing the durability, and it’s come out on top most times.
Out of all the drums on your kit, this mic tends to bring the best sounds out of your snare. You get immaculate detail in the tones, and working with the mic in a mixing setting is very straightforward.
At the end of the day, this is a microphone that every person should have. Most people have more than one. You could mic an entire drum kit with SM57s, and you’ll get a decent tone. However, it works best when used for the top and bottom of snare drums.
Sennheiser e 604 Cardioid Dynamic Drum Microphone
The Sennheiser e 604 Cardioid Dynamic Drum Microphone (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a microphone that works well on both snare drums and toms, but I mostly recommend getting a few of these for your toms if that’s what you’re looking for.
One of them is a bit pricier than a single Shure SM57, but the quality you get is just outstanding. This microphone even works great on floor toms, bringing out just as much low-end as many thicker mics do.
My favorite aspect of the mic is its size. It’s very small, allowing you to place it comfortably on a tom without worrying about hitting it. Whether you place it on the top or side, it will still stay mostly out of range of your drumsticks.
The mic brings a lot of attack out of your rack toms, making them sound very present in your mix. If you don’t have tom mics yet, getting a few of these will make your overall drum kit sound far meatier.
I’ve never met any drummer who doesn’t like this mic. So, it’s arguably one of the safest single microphone options to choose.
Samson C02 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Pair
The Samson C02 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Pair (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a pair of microphones that I’ve personally been using for many years. They’re some of the best performing cheap microphones I’ve ever worked with, and they’re a brilliant option for drummers on a budget that need some overheads.
I’d also highly recommend getting this pair if you need a hi-hat mic. They’re mostly sold in pairs, so just getting one may be tricky. However, you can use the second one as a room mic to add more natural reverb to your drum mix.
You get a very bright sound from these microphones, which is why they work so well for hi-hats. Some drummers aren’t big fans of the bright sound for overheads, though.
Like the Shure SM57, these are microphones that I think all drummers should have, as you can easily find a use for them in various places. Those uses will just differ depending on your level as a musician and the sounds you’re looking for.
They don’t offer the same depth of tone as higher-priced condenser microphones, so keep that in mind.
Shure KSM137 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Pair
The Shure KSM137 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Pair (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a much better option if you’re looking for top-tier mics to use as overheads. These microphones cost a lot more than the previous Samson ones, but they offer a lot more in terms of sound quality and usability.
They’re surprisingly small for the depth that they offer, but most drummers love how natural they sound. Their frequency response is very flat, so they give you plenty of room to mix with in either direction.
They also have incredible build quality, with diaphragms that utilize all of Shure’s best design techniques.
Musicians mostly use these microphones for acoustic guitars and as drum overheads. So, I strongly recommend considering these if you want workhorse microphones to pick up all the sounds of your drum set.
While they cost a lot more than other condensers, they still don’t cost as much as the options from brands like Earthworks and Telefunken. I think the price is very reasonable for what you get.
Shure DMK57-52 Drum Microphone Kit
The Shure DMK57-52 Drum Microphone Kit (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) holds a combination of two of the microphones that we’ve already looked at. This kit comes with three SM57s and one Beta 52A.
You can save about $100 by purchasing this kit instead of getting each microphone individually, and using these mics together will give you a great drum kit mix.
While I’ve already mentioned both types of microphones that you get here, I think this kit is worth mentioning as well due to it being such a good deal. Both the SM57 and Beta 52A are microphones that every studio engineer owns in their collection, so buying a set that gives you both is a sweet deal. Add in two more SM57s, and the deal is even sweeter.
The extra SM57 microphones could easily be used as overheads if you don’t have yet. You’d just need to place them cleverly to pick up as much of your drum kit as possible. If you already have overheads, then you could use them for your toms.
It’s not an ideal drum mic kit to get if you don’t have microphones already, but it’s a brilliant option for drummers that want to add more of these mics to their microphone locker.
sE Electronics V Pack Club Drum Microphone Package
The sE Electronics V Pack Club Drum Microphone Package (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the few full drum microphone kits I know of that only comes with two tom mics. It’s a perfect option for drummers that only use a single rack tom in their setup.
All the other microphone kits in its segment come with a second rack tom mic, and they cost just over $100 more. So, this is a more convenient option to choose, and you’ll save a bit of cash.
These V Drums microphones have been gaining a good amount of popularity over the past few years. They do a great job of making your drum kit sound lively, and I’m highly impressed by their build quality as well.
The only thing I don’t like about them is the red highlights on every diaphragm, but that’s just a personal gripe that most people won’t be bothered by. The visual design of the microphones has nothing to do with how they perform, and they perform fantastically.
The bass drum mic brings out beefy tones, the overheads are very natural, and the V Beat tom mics have some of the best bleed rejection that I’ve heard.
Sennheiser e600 Drum Microphone Kit
This kit comes with four e604 mics, which I’ve already explained the value of. The other standout microphone is the e602-II kick drum mic.
It’s undoubtedly a strong rival to Shure’s Beta 52A. I’ve found that his mic does a better job of getting a full sound out of your bass drum. The Beta 52A has attack and warmth combined, while this mic has a lot of warmth and resonance. It’s fantastic for getting an open and ringing sound.
The e614 condenser mics do a good job of reflecting the different frequencies from all your cymbals, and they give an accurate response of different cymbal types.
I wouldn’t say this pack is better or worse than the Audix DP7 pack. It just offers slightly different sounds. It’s a good idea to listen to both, and then decide which sounds you like better.
Both options are perfect for professional drummers of any level.
What To Look For In a Drum Mic
Mics for Different Drums
While any microphone will work decently for any sound source, there are certain microphones that work better for different drums. This is the tricky aspect of getting drum microphones, as you need to know what works well for each drum and cymbal.
Certain microphones react better to low frequencies, so those ones work great for floor toms and bass drums. When you put them on a snare drum, they make the snare sound a bit weird when coming through the mix, as many of the high frequencies go missing.
The same can be said for every type of microphone for each drum. So, here’s a quick breakdown of what works well for each part of your drum kit.
Overhead mics are by far the most important microphones that you need to get for your drum kit. If you only have the capacity to get one or two mics at the start, these are what you should get.
The goal of an overhead mic is to pick up the sounds from your cymbals as well as your drums. They often make your drums sound a bit thin if you don’t have close mics, but getting an overall sound is much better than if you were to only have close mics.
It’s mostly recommended that you use a pair, as the drum kit is so big that having two will give you the best chance of picking everything up.
When looking for a pair, make sure that you’re getting condenser microphones. These will have a wider pickup range, allowing you to get details that dynamic microphones won’t.
Also, not that overhead microphones don’t typically come with stands when you buy them. You’ll need to get two boom stands to be able to place them above your drum kit.
Bass Drum Mic
Getting a bass drum mic is the next most important thing. Overhead mics don’t do a great job of picking up the low-end depth of your bass drum, so having one of those will fill your sound out a bit.
It will also allow you to control how your bass drum sounds in the mix, whereas you won’t have much control with just overhead microphones.
It’s better to get a dynamic microphone for a bass drum, as you want to get a tight sound that comes from the direction you face it in.
You’ll get more attack from your bass drum if you place the mic inside the shell. If that’s the sound you want, there are two things to note.
Firstly, your resonant bass drumhead needs to have a port hole. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to cut one out or get a new head that already has one.
Secondly, not every bass drum mic is small enough to fit through a port hole, so just check that before buying one.
Bass drum mics can be attached to full microphone boom stands, but I recommend looking for a dedicated bass drum mic stand. These are a lot shorter, saving you on some space. Most of them are very accommodating, allowing you to place the mic both inside and outside of the bass drum.
Snare Drum Mics
Next in line is the snare drum mic. You play the snare drum the most out of any drum on a kit, so adding a snare drum mic to your setup will give a lot of added depth to your overall mix.
The best snare drum mics are typically dynamic mics with long bodies. Having a long body allows you to point the mic near the center of the drumhead, giving you the fullest sound.
It’s okay for snare drum mics to be a bit larger than the mics you use for toms, as you can easily position them where they won’t get in the way.
If you want even more control over your snare drum sound, you can get a mic to face the bottom side of your snare to pick up the wires. This will be a bit unnecessary for newer drummers, though. It’s just something that professional producers do to get the most control possible in their drum mix.
Tom mics aren’t as important as the previous ones I just mentioned, as you can get a fairly decent drum mix without them. However, you’ll be able to control your tom sounds a lot better when you have a dedicated mic on each one.
The mics you get for your toms should be a bit smaller, as they’re a lot easier to accidentally hit when you’re playing drum fills.
They should also have very high sound pressure levels, considering that many drummers love smacking their toms as hard as possible.
The number of tom mics you need depends on how many toms you have in your kit. Some drummers only have two, while others have as many as ten.
However, I wouldn’t suggest spending as much on tom mics as you do on the snare, overhead, and kick mics. Toms don’t offer as many nuanced tones as those other drums, so it’s better to spend more on the most important mics and then save a bit of cash when getting tom mics.
Overhead mics typically do a very good job of picking up the sounds of your hi-hat cymbals. However, it always helps to have a dedicated hi-hat mic so that the sounds are a bit clearer and more powerful in your mix.
When looking for a hi-hat mic, you can just look for the same features that work well in an overhead mic. A good condenser will be perfect.
A lot of drummers like to upgrade their overhead mics to better-quality options and then use one of the old condensers as a new hi-hat mic. That’s a great way of repurposing your mics after you upgrade.
Drum Mic Kits
If you want to get the best bang for your buck, getting a full drum microphone kit is the best option to go with.
A full drum mic kit typically comes with seven microphones, including dynamic mics for your snare, toms, and kick drum, and two condenser mics to use as overheads.
You’ll usually score seven mics for the price of five or six. It’s also much easier than picking out individual microphones that you know will work well for your drum kit.
After a while, you may find that you want to upgrade a few microphones to get better sound quality. You can then replace a few while still using some of the mics that originally came in the pack.
With that being said, a lot of drum mic kits don’t have the highest-quality mics. All the ones that do cost several hundred dollars. If you’re only wanting top-tier microphones, it would be better to stick with buying overheads and a kick mic for the same price as a full kit with lower-quality options.
Condenser vs Dynamic Microphones
These are the two main types of microphones that you should get for drum kits. I briefly touched on them in the previous points, but here are all the details that you need to know.
Condenser microphones have much wider pickup patterns, meaning they pick the sounds up from a wider range of sound sources. Dynamic mics only pick the sounds up from whatever they’re pointed at.
The benefit of a condenser mic is that you get richer sound quality, but the drawback is that you get far more bleed from sources that you don’t want to hit the mic.
They’re perfect as overheads, as the goal is to pick up the entire kit, but it can get frustrating when you only want a snare drum sound and you keep getting tom or cymbal sounds through the same microphone.
Some condenser microphones have much better bleed rejection than others. The ones from Earthworks are a good example, which is why they work excellently as close mics too.
Just note that all condenser microphones need phantom power to work. That should come from your interface or mixer.
Dynamic microphones tend to have higher sound pressure levels. This means that they can pick up louder sounds without distorting. That’s what makes them so good for toms, snares, and bass drums.
The big benefit of dynamic microphones is that they’re always a lot cheaper to buy than condenser ones. You can use them on every drum, but I wouldn’t recommend using them as overheads.
Microphone Rim Clips
When buying microphones for your snare drum and toms, make sure that they come with rim clips. These clips allow them to attach to the rims of your drums, stopping you from having to put them on full microphone stands.
If you had to place all your drum mics on boom stands, you’d have seven stands placed around your kit. While this kind of setup isn’t so bad in a recording studio where the drums never move, it can get incredibly frustrating in any other environment. So, rim clips are a massive space saver.
They typically come with microphones that are specifically designed for drum kits, but you won’t get them with all-purpose mics that work well for drums.
In that case, you’ll need to buy them separately. Just make sure to get the ones that you know are compatible with the microphones that you’re getting. If you’re unsure of that, it’s good to phone and ask the seller.
Frequency response is a metric that you will find on every microphone you buy. It essentially tells you how well the microphone will perform when picking up certain frequencies.
You’ll find that most popular microphones have very similar frequency response ranges, which is anywhere from 20 – 20 000 Hz.
However, there are a few that fall outside of that range. If you see that, I’d suggest steering clear of that microphone.
Looking at the frequency response is how you can tell which mics work better for certain drums. Mics with lower response ranges work better for floor toms and bass drums, while mics with higher ranges work well for snare drums, cymbals, and toms.
You need to establish a budget when looking for different drum microphones. You can easily place mics into categories according to their budget, and this differs depending on whether you’re getting a single mic or a full drum mic kit.
When buying single microphones, anything that costs under $100 would be considered an entry-level option. You can tell by the prices alone that these mics won’t be of the highest quality.
If you want something a bit better that offers better quality and usability, you’ll need to spend between $100 and $400. Any single microphone that costs over $400 is a luxury option.
For full drum mic kits, you can expect to pay between $100 and $2000. If you’re looking for a 7-piece kit, I wouldn’t recommend spending less than $250, as everything that I’ve seen below that sounds quite poor.
All the drum mic kits that cost over $1000 are incredible, but you most likely won’t recognize the quality they offer if you’re still new to recording drums.
It’s often better to start with more affordable drum microphones so that you can learn how to mix and master your drum tracks well. Once you get to a stage where you feel limited, then it will be time to get higher-quality drum mics.
Best Drum Mic Brands
There are more audio brands out there in the world than any one person can count. However, there are a select few that have become well-known for their drum kit mic product ranges. Many of them also produce mics for all instruments that just happen to work brilliantly on drum sets too.
If you pick a mic or a set of mics from any of the following brands, you’ll be good to go.
Earthworks Audio has been around for many years, but the brand has seen a recent spike in popularity due to all the big YouTube drummers using their products.
They’re a luxury brand, so anything you buy from them won’t come with a low price tag. However, you’re guaranteed to get incredible sound quality. I’ve also noticed how a lot of their microphones are much easier to work with compared to other brands.
Shure is by far the most popular audio brand for drummers. Whether you’re looking for microphones, headphones, or speakers, they have it all.
The SM57 is one of the most used snare drum microphones ever, and there are plenty of other reliable options from the brand to help you get great recordings and live performance sounds.
I love how affordable most of their mics are. They’re not in the entry-level price range, but they’re affordable enough not to break the bank. Even though they’re affordable, they’re often used in highly professional settings.
Audix is often seen as the biggest competition to Shure when it comes to drum mics. If you’re not a big fan of a Shure drum mic, you’ll easily be able to find an equivalent Audix one for the same price.
Drummers have been choosing between the two brands for ages, and the guys at Audix have made some incredible products.
Sennheiser is a highly regarded audio brand. I’m a huge fan of their pro-tier drum microphones. A few of them are quite pricey, but they’re still not as expensive as the options from Earthworks.
You’ll find a great middle ground here, but the brand also offers excellent entry-level options. There have been some killer albums recorded with Sennheiser drum mics.
If you’re looking for very affordable drum mics that do their job well, look no further than Samson. I can’t tell you how many gigs I’ve played where the sound engineer had hooked Samson C02 mics up to the hi-hats, even though all the other drum mics were much higher in quality.
This is one of the best brands for drummers with low budgets that are buying their first drum mics. The brand offers several excellent microphone kits, but I’m a big fan of their single mic options as well.
Top Drum Mics, Final Thoughts
If you’re getting drum mics for the first time, I strongly recommend getting a full microphone kit. You’ll save a bit of money, and you’ll have every mic you need at the beginning. After that, it’s a good idea to upgrade your mics as you gain more experience.
Remember, you need to also get a recording interface or a mixer to be able to use the microphones in live or studio settings.